(MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ) – Middlesex County, in partnership with the Middlesex County Attorney’s Office and the New Jersey Board of Education Services, hosted the Student Mental Health Educators Summit on Thursday 30 September to meet the challenges of social and emotional issues. well-being facing elementary, secondary and post-secondary students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The panel shared information on the impact of the pandemic on children and young adults and discussed the results of a survey of educators in Middlesex County school districts and charter schools conducted in May by the Commission of New Jersey Education Services and the Middlesex County Superintendent’s Office. schools. A link to a recording of the event can be found here.
Senator Joseph Vitale, Director of Middlesex County Commissioners, Principal Ronald G. Rios, County Commissioner Chanelle Scott McCullum and Superintendent Mark Finkelstein of the New Jersey Board of Education Services were the guest speakers. Middlesex County District Attorney Yolanda Ciccone served as moderator and panelists included: Lakeasha Carter, MPA, Middlesex County Community Services Department; Kyle Anderson, Middlesex County Executive Superintendent; Scott Feder, Principal of Southern Brunswick Public Schools; George Scott, State Coordinator, Traumatic Loss Coalition; David Irizarry, Chief of Police, Borough of Metuchen; Lois Yukna, Middlesex County Education Association; and Frank A. Ghinassi, PhD, ABPP, President and CEO, Rutgers Health University, Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Care, Behavioral Health and Addiction Service Line, RWJBarnabas Health.
âThe past 18 months have been difficult for all of us, but especially for the students and educators. On behalf of the County Council of Middlesex County Commissioners, I thank everyone who took part and participated in this very important discussion, âsaid County Commissioners Council Director Ronald G. Rios. âWe understand that these problems are complex and that the best solutions will come from collaborative efforts involving our entire community. “
âAs chair of the County Business Innovation, Education and Opportunities Committee, I have the privilege of working with educators in our county and seeing first-hand the incredible work they do. I am continually impressed with their efforts and dedication – especially as we continue to face the worst public health crisis our country has seen in a century, âsaid County Commissioner Chanelle Scott McCullum. âThe loss of social and emotional skills is as important, if not more, than the loss of academic learning when students return to face-to-face classes. Fortunately, we know that our principals are already focused on finding and creating solutions.
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“After nearly two years of distance learning, we are now seeing the big impacts on student mental health due to school closures, physical distancing and isolation guidelines, and other unexpected changes in student life, “said Superintendent Mark Finkelstein of the New Jersey Educational Services Commission. âChildren already struggling with mental health issues have been particularly vulnerable to change. With the help of Middlesex County leaders, educators, principals and parents, we hope to better meet and support the emotional and psychological needs of our students throughout the ongoing pandemic. “
âThe COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for students, educators and parents. Due to the high levels of anxiety, depression and burnout, students already facing mental health issues have been particularly vulnerable, âsaid Middlesex County District Attorney Yolanda Ciccone. âSolving the trauma and mental health issues associated with COVID-19 will require more than mental health services, which is why we have assembled a group of experts in education, law enforcement, health care and in community services to point us in the right direction. “
In addition to the survey results, the panel also explained how each school district is already addressing challenges, including chronic truancy, inappropriate student behavior, potential for violence, and massive loss of learning for new students. during the 2021-2022 school year.
To read an editorial on the findings written by Middlesex County Commissioner McCullum, Middlesex County District Attorney Ciccone and New Jersey Board of Education Services Board Superintendent of Schools Finkelstein, Click here.
Middlesex County is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, three universities, 19 park systems, and world-class health and research facilities, making it one of the fastest growing regions in the country and a leader in technology, transport, the arts and food innovation. As one of the most diverse populations in the country, Middlesex County is home to more than 832,000 residents living in 25 municipalities. Ranked # 1 in the state’s Best Schools, the county offers an award-winning vocational education system, county college, and workforce development creating a unique ecosystem in which opportunities abound. Ideally located between New York and Philadelphia, Middlesex County has been a premier destination for businesses and residents to live, work and play – and has been since the 17th century.